Work together, no matter where the team’s location is.
Just like the air in the sky and emotions inside us, few things cannot always be seen— but felt.
You’re feeling it.
Also, in the absence of those unseen factors, your existence might have to suffer.
However, when it comes to managing a team— that isn’t around you (Yes, remote teams)— things are slightly different.
Relax—nothing to worry about.
You and your organization will still survive by following some practical tips mentioned in this guide.
Today businesses have access to a global talent pool. It is still the leader’s onus to nurture, guide, and support these teams with individual attention. It poses a challenge for managers.
Remote work sometimes creates doubts about the project’s quality of output since the process involves connecting Managers and product teams existing in the proverbial ‘long-distance’ setup.
As per a report, in 2020 (before COVID-19 arrived), there were already 7 million people working remotely in the U.S., or 3.4 percent of the population. Click To Tweet
Handling a remote software development team can prove challenging for a leader/manager when she/he and the team are in separate locations.
To understand this problem, we must begin at a grass-root level and address the elephant in the room, i.e., What is a remote team?
What is a Remote Team?
When it comes to a remote team, the first thing that comes to mind is a group of professionals working from different time zones, with diverse skillsets and different cultures working together towards a unified goal.
However, this is not always true. Many small software development or software development outsourcing teams have a workforce in a single country or even one city. It’s just that without having to go to the workplace— they all work from home.
The ethos remains the same- collaboration for quality. But deploying remote workers is a challenge in its self. Working remotely is one thing and managing a remote team is a different ball game.
While managing remote teams, many project management challenges surface.
Challenges in Managing Remote Teams
Remote work is now the need of the hour, and most companies have embraced it to keep up business ops. Every coin has two sides, and with the advent of remote teams, challenges related to managing such a workforce have also surfaced.
- Lack of communication
- Lack of accountability
- Unclear roles and tasks
- Lack of set schedules
- Difficulty in tracking employee performance
- Lack of cohesion
- Lack of team spirit
With the rose comes to its thorns, and so it is with remote working. Below we have elucidated some of the problems that managers face while deploying a remote team.
Top Challenges Leaders Face while ‘remote team management’ and How to Deal with Them.
1. The Right Hiring
People are the heart of any team. In remote working, a manager must make sure the remote team is the best qualified and best fit for organizational goals and work objectives.
According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 72% of talent professionals agree that work flexibility (which includes remote work options) will be essential for the future of HR and recruiting.
Along with core competencies, trust and accountability are of prime importance while hiring a remote team. Some points that should be on the manager’s checklist to hire remote software engineer for effective remote team management are-
- High-Quality communication
- Clear Reasoning
- Clear and organized explanations
- Primarily Positive communication
2. The Right Tools
Invest in the Right Remote Project Management Software
Your remote working team culture will flourish when you’ve got it under one roof. And when you rely on remote team management tools to schedule activities, projects, and even individuals, — that can be made possible.
Here’s what you can do leveraging a project management software:
It lets you connect and communicate for prolific remote team management.
- Keeps track of project evolution
- Tracks productivity of the workforce
- Maintain and manage timesheets
- Real-time information sharing
- Have team discussions
- Manage the tasks on a task list
- Interact across diverse time zones
Ensuring that the remote software development team is working while utilizing the right tools is much needed. Today’s technology has made it possible to have a productive team globally, and using the right tools will help organize remote work and keep the team and the manager on the same page. Some suggested tools are-
Google’s collaboration and productivity app for businesses g-Suite combines all of the Google software and added features, making it an immersive productivity powerhouse.
ZOHO boasts word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, web conferencing, customer relationship management, project management, invoicing, etc., with all these applications under one umbrella.
SLACK is a virtual office. It is a communication software where one can create project-specific chat rooms. At Radixweb, we generally have channels tagged as #projectmanagementteam #QAteam, etc., so that information flows to the right endpoint.
Easily the best video conferencing tool for video calls, including large groups, Zoom enables the entire remote team to be present for the client and add value to the meeting.
ASANA is a comprehensive tool where teams can create projects, delegate work, build timelines, communicate, and report progress. Asana helps to improve team collaboration and management.
Based on the KANBAN methodology, Trello includes visual cues to smoothen workflow. TRELLO is used to create task boards with each task differentiated based on its status/ degree of completion.
Collaboration is an integral part of all businesses and also another issue with remote software development teams. Lack of coordination between teams results in weak project management.
When looking for remote team management, managers should track and collaborate online with remote teams to keep all the workforce on the same page.
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4. Cultural Differences
Another challenge in managing employees who are working remotely is— cultural differences. As per Deloitte, 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 percent call the problem “very important.”
And when you’re trying to manage a globally scattered workforce and understand their workforce’s different cultural elements, you might get pleasantly surprised to know how much your remote software team members have in common.
The more you can find ways to concentrate on mutual goals, values, and the global team’s joint mission, the higher the chances of success and more comfortable to manage cultural differences
The better you get to work with people from multiple cultural backgrounds, the more doors you will open up for the big business.
Here are some useful tips on how Radixweb has mastered the challenge of cultural difference for success in remote working.
Remote working allows for an incredible amount of freedom. But this might harm delivery times and quality. It is one of the most significant challenges as there is a lack of visibility and control.
Thus transparency and accountability are critical factors. To facilitate openness among the remote software developer; and their respective managers, clear project roles and responsibilities need to be set.
6. Regular One-On-One
In a remote working environment, team members do not have the facility to have lengthy discussions about issues. It then falls to the manager’s side of the court to give employees time for one on ones and remains available to address issues.
7. Difference in Time Zones
Varying time zones lead to issues in communication. Pre-emptive scheduling of meetings is needed to build a distributed team so that it is convenient both for the manager and the teams.
Read our trending article to know how you can overcome the time zone difference and get the best out of remote-software-development-team
8. Team Bonding
Chats around the water coolers are absent in a remote working atmosphere, but it does not mean there are scarce opportunities for team bonding. Here are a couple of methods for managers to stay connected with their teams.
Don’t just say Hi– Managers should always involve the human element in their conversations with their teams. While asking about an update, a simple hi would be boring. So one may begin with— Do you watch the “XYZ’ web-series? It will bring in a sense of collaboration, and the team member will feel like a person instead of a working robot.
Celebrate even small achievements– Even if an actual meet-up is not possible, a congratulatory email or note can do wonders to boost team morale.
Honesty above all– Be honest. It means honesty with team members and honesty with expectations.
Managers need to be proactive leaders while managing remote software development teams. Working with remote teams though assisted by today’s technology, is not easy, but it is not that hard either. Here are some guidelines for managers to keep their remote teams up and running.
Best practices for Remote Team management
1. Set Boundaries
There is a need to set boundaries to outline the professional and personal lives of remote teams. Work schedules should be apparent while respecting their time. It, in turn, displays that as a manager, you care for their time.
2. Embrace Diversity
Cultural obstacles are commonplace while managing remote teams. Multicultural teams might face misunderstandings and conflicts that divide them.
As a manager, one must find how people from different areas and walks of life are open to receive feedback. A manager must promote a mindset of celebrating differences and respect for cultural variances.
3. Set Expectations Early
Whether working remotely or virtually, every business has expectations, and the manager must mobilize their remote software development teams in achieving them. Being transparent with employees helps them focus on business goals. The following expectations should be made clear-
- Working hours
- Required Availability
- Adherence to deadlines
- Scheduled meetings
4. Utilize Your Online Communication Skills
A setback in communication is common in a remote working environment. Without good communication skills connecting with teams can prove problematic.
The online nature of current biz communication allows instant connectivity; however, online communication skills are essential. Conversations must be quick and precise so that teams do not get confused.
5. Offer Support
Not being face to face with team members can have managers struggling with the needs of employees. A rule of thumb is that though they may be out of sight, they shouldn’t be out of mind. Problems related to a project or a teammate or workflow are common, and as a manager, one should step up to understand subliminal clues and offer Support and a helping hand.
6. The Process
It’s all about the PROCESS
Imagine your team member during the time of action, saying that he/she did not know to perform such things. This type of situation would surely exhaust your valuable time and resources.
Your remote asset needs to know every nuance of their job functions. Working under the same roof several times gives a cushion to the employees to reach out to colleagues and superiors for minor matters related to their job functions.
How to induct new team members to my project?
What should I include in my weekly work report to make it clear to the recipients?
How can I ensure full transparency of my progress to my Manager/ Customer?
What should I do if I foresee a risk of schedule variance in my assigned work-items?
These are a few of the usual yet critical scenarios that a team member runs into during his/her work.
Defining specific SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) for essential job functions and ensuring proper team inductions to such SOPs reduces the possibility of being unaware of their job functions by remote team members.
It relatively decreases the interdependence of remote teams for daily activities.
Few examples of processes that need SOPs for software development projects may include:
- Project Kick-off
- Team-member Induction
- Release / Deployment
- Change Management
- Knowledge Handover
- Maintenance and Support SLA
- Project Closure/Sign-off
Know Your Team
Knowing a person who is sitting beside you the whole day is easy. Given the hours spent together, it is easy for a manager to know his team inside out, their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and unique personality traits. But in remote work, the manager will have to make an extra effort to know the team.
Companies now conduct business in the global marketplace with cultures and ethics differing from latitude to latitude. Businesses mold themselves to their clients’ needs, and managers should do the same when it comes to mobilizing an effective remote team.
The manager should know what makes every individual team member tick and what get them down to work. We hope that this guide will help you as a manager and a leader to create an effective, efficient, and energetic remote team.
Radixweb, a custom software development company, has been working ‘remotely’ for 20 years now. As a Microsoft Gold certified Software development partner, Radixweb has operated remotely for over 2900 clients spread across 25 countries for whom we have been working 100% remotely.
It is our business to transform yours, no matter where your location is, technologically.
Our technophile attitude and presence on the cutting edge of technology has helped our remote teams create game-changing bespoke solutions for our clients, ones that have become crucial gears in the machinery of their success stories.
Connect with us, and we would be happy to build yours. 🙂